Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

Professional Whip Artistry Training & Entertainment

2017 Whip Contests at American Western Arts Showcase, Greenville, Ohio

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 9.24.24 AMGREENVILLE, OH –  The American Western Arts Showcase (Formerly the Annie Oakley Western Arts Showcase) will expand into two days of events this summer, Friday and Saturday, July 28 – 29, 2017. Read more for details of the event, or Click Complete Contest Details

Everything kicks off on Friday, July 28 at 12 Noon with open practices and rehearsals plus some great educational sessions scheduled throughout the day for public view.

Whip cracking, knife throwing and more will continue all day until the Friday Night Feature Show at 5 PM!

Saturday’s event schedule begins at 1 p.m. with the Whip Contest Exhibition, which will include speed and accuracy, bullwhip fast draw and a style contest. Contests will be followed at 2:30 by a matinee performance featuring whip artist Gery L. Deer, the knife throwing skills of Bass Blades and more.

This year’s whip contests are dedicated to our dear friend, legendary Australian whip performer, John Brady who passed away earlier this year. John was a friend and a great whip handler and performer.

American Whip Speed & Accuracy Exhibition Contests
Speed & Accuracy
Speed Switch
The First, ORIGINAL Bullwhip Fast Draw competition

PLUS! The Indiana Jones-styled turning fast draw contest, just like you see in the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Contestants will use an 8-foot or longer bullwhip to face off against each other in an effort to recreate the dramatic first crack by Indiana Jones.

2:30 PM Matinee Performance – Sneak preview for the Grand Showcase

5:00 PM Grand Western Showcase hosted by The Brothers & Co. Entertainers – Whip Artistry, Daredevil Knife Throwing, Fantastic Trick Roping and music and comedy by The Brothers & Co! Exhibitions and practice sessions open to public audiences throughout the afternoon.

The Grand Western Showcase will begin at 5:00 PM, hosted by The Brothers & Co. Entertainers music and variety show. Free admission.


First a bit of history.

The American Western Arts Showcase is a performance service of The Whip Artistry Studio and GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. It started as a whip cracking workshop in 2002 at the family farm of producer Gery L. Deer and moved to Annie Oakley Festival in 2003 and has been associated with the event ever since. The showcase consists of Wild West arts performances and exhibition contests in the traditional show style in front of a live audience during the festival. The festival recently moved from the Darke County Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 1.33.47 PMFairground in Greenville, to about 2 miles outside of town off of St Rt 127 at York Woods, near Ansonia, Ohio. (6129 Reed R. Versailles, OH 45380)

Since the production is the service of a world known whip artist, our event is “whip heavy,” but we welcome trick ropers, knife throwers and fancy gun spinners to attend as well! Highly publicized and advertised, ours is one of the longest continually running whip artistry events in the United States.

Remember, this is a western-themed event so all participants are encouraged to wear western costuming and accessories. (Notice: No loaded firearms are permitted in the contest / performance area – not even blanks.)

At this time, we are only doing whip exhibition contests but hope to bring back knife and trick roping contests in the future. If you’re interested in knife throwing, please contact our Thrown Weapons Director Kirk Bass. World-record setting whip artistry performers, Robert Dante and Chris Camp (pictured above) are regulars at the Annie Oakley events.

This year, there is no cost for attending the festival or participating in our contests and showcases. Please read full details to follow.

About Our Contests:

First, it’s important to remember that while it’s true our events were once professional competitions with trophy prizes, today they are “exhibition” contests, meaning they are done in full public view with no monetary prizes. The intention is to expose the public to professional and hobbyist whip artistry in a family-friendly setting that is true to the traditional bullwhip handling performance style.

We do sometimes have prizes to give away such as whip holsters, whips and other items depending on donations and sponsorships, but mostly these contests are about pleasing an audience and having fun sharing our skills and interests with other whip handlers. All of our events are held outdoors during the Annie Oakley Festival at York Woods in Ansonia, Ohio (Darke County)

Most of the whip targets used in the contests are 12-ounce styrofoam cups.

About Our Showcase Performances

For those interested in participating in our showcase performances information is available here on how to do that as well.

If you have a business and would like to sponsor prizes to be given away, please contact Gery Deer –


Whip Speed & Accuracy

Traditional whip speed and accuracy contest styled after the original Wild West Arts Club contests.

Whip Requirements: Any style of whip (leather or nylon), any length up to 10 feet.

Description: Five target stands hold two styrofoam cups, one on each side of a steel post. Starting the clock at the first crack, the contestant will attempt to cut each cup moving down the row of targets while remaining behind a “deadline” approximately 6 feet from the target stand. The contestant gets two shots at each target in any order they like but must not touch the deadline with their foot. The goal is to have the fastest time at the end of the run. Distance from dead line to target is adjusted accordingly for children at the discretion of the producer.

For each missed cup, foot touch or crossing of the deadline, or cup hit on the upswing, judges will add 5 seconds to final time.

Video below of a whip speed and accuracy contest from 2013 AOWAS.
(Note: The event is now held outdoors on grass field.)

The Whip Artistry Studio’s “Speed Switch” Speed & Accuracy

Description: Set up in the same configuration as described for the standard speed and accuracy contest, The Whip Artistry Studio’s, “Speed Switch” contest is an original contest created at the festival in 2005. The rules are essentially the same – cut all the targets, don’t leave any untouched, don’t step over the line, and two shots at each target.

In this version, however, contestants will switch hands halfway through. Starting from the far left target stand, each contestant will go down the line using the whip in the left hand to hit all the targets on the left side of the post and then switch hands at the end of the line, using the right hand to hit all right side targets going back from right to left.

The contestant must not hit a left-hand cup with the whip held in the right hand, and vise versa.

For each missed target, target cut on the wrong side of the post, foot touch or crossing of the deadline, or target hit on the upswing, judges will add 5 seconds to final time.

Video below of a Speed Switch contest from 2014 AOWAS.

The Whip Artistry Studio’s “Bullwhip Fast Draw”

Description: This contest originated with members of The Whip Artistry Studio and first appeared at the 2003 Annie Oakley Festival – Ohio Regional Wild West Arts Club Convention. Created by Gery Deer, Paul Nolan and Chris Curtis, with input from Rich Hoffman, the contest is designed to test the speed and accuracy of a bullwhip handler from a coiled, holstered position.

Whip Requirements: 6-foot bullwhips only (leather or nylon). (Measured from the butt of the handle to the fall hitch.)

Two contestants stand opposite each other with a target placed on a stand midway between them. A six-foot bullwhip is coiled in their hand and held at the belt on one side (not snapped into a holster). When the announcer counts down and says “draw” each contestant tries to be the first to make contact with the target with the whip from the coiled and held position. Video below.

Video sample of the bullwhip fast draw featuring Rich Hoffman and Kirk Bass…

Indiana Jones Bullwhip Fast Draw

Similar to the bullwhip fast draw described above, this contest is further refined to reflect the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you recall, in the movie, the first time you see Indy use his trusty whip, he has his back to the guy who pulls the gun on him and his whip is coiled and holstered at his side.

At the sound of the pistol cocking, Indy manages to draw his whip, wheel around, target and strike the hand of his would-be assailant just in time to save his own neck. Somehow he manages to do all that in a split-second, without tangling a 10-foot bullwhip in the trees and dunking it in the water behind him as he throws it. And so will our contestants! Actually, we’ve made it a great deal easier than that.

Two contestants will stand opposite each other with a target midway between them. Their whip is coiled and hanging in a snapped holster with their backs to the target and their opponent. When the announcer calls, “draw,” or clicks his pistol hammer (whichever he decides to do), each contestant will attempt to draw, turn and be first to make contact with the target.

Whip Requirements: 8-foot bullwhip or longer (Indy style with wrist loop preferred but not required).

Other Requirements: Please bring a belt that fits you. A snap holster will be provided if you don’t have one.

Western Arts Showcase Performances

Newcomer Hollie Bradley during her work with Chris Camp in the evening show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

Hollie Bradley during her work with Chris Camp in the evening show. (Photo by Debra Bays / Copyright GLD Enterprises 2014)

Description: The showcase performances are entertainment shows featuring any of the performers who attend the event and wish to participate.

Showcase performances are 10-15 minutes in length and include whip artistry, trick and fancy roping, knife throwing, fancy gunspinning, and music performance – or a combination of these.

There are three shows during the festival – one on Friday afternoon and two on Saturday – matinee and feature.

Requirements: If you’ve never been to our show before, you’ll need to “audition” to perform. Send us links to video of your previous performances. You’ll need to provide proof of your performance liability insurance ($1,000,000 minimum liability). We will need to see your performance demo reel and a copy of your insurance certificate by June 10th, 2016.

Your placement into one or all of the showcases is dependent on your arrival time. Spaces are limited and first come, first served. If you’d like us to publicize your appearance with us, please include a photo of yourself and a 100 word (or less) bio with a link to your website and/or social media.

Please Do: Be entertaining, bright and skillful. Lots of energy and show us how you get the crowd excited!

Please Don’t: No fire arms are to be discharged during your performance.

There is no compensation for these performances, but performers are welcome to sell merchandise at specified locations within our space. Vendors must be contest sponsors or showcase participants.

(Reference: If you need performance insurance, please visit

Hints on practicing for the contests:

  1. Don’t overthink it! If you are already a good targeter, chances are you’ll be able to handle the contests with no problem. Just practice your target work.
  2. If you want to do better on targeting, use targets smaller than those used in the contest. The 12-ounce foam cups used in these contests are about 6 inches in length. Practice using a smaller 8-oz. cup to refine your skills.
  3. Don’t watch the clock! In speed and accuracy contests, accuracy counts more than speed. You can have a great time running down the line but leave targets untouched or hit the wrong ones just because you’re rushing and paying less attention to your accuracy.
  4. Try not to move any more than necessary. It’s really hard to target when you’re walking – especially with a longer whip. A good whip targeter can stand in one place and hit targets at different distances. Practice directing your whip where you want it to go.
  5. Have fun! Remember these are exhibition contests. Everyone is at our event to enjoy each other’s skill and company and to learn and show the public the fun we all have with whip arts.


The American Western Arts Showcase is sponsored by The Whip Artistry Studio, GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd., and The Annie Oakley Festival Committee.


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